15 April 2014

Reminiscence of the First Mustang: Readers share their Pony tales

The release of the Ford Mustang was a big bang for the auto industry and revolutionary for car hobbyists worldwide. Everyone remembers their first Mustang, or the first time they laid eyes on one. April 17 is the Mustang’s 50th anniversary, and many people are reminiscing as memories come back to life. Here we share a few of those stories:

Rich D., New York

When I was about 3 years old, my dad would sit me on his lap and let me "drive" his 1959 Ford Country Squire station wagon into the driveway after we got home from a long trip. My folks took me to the 1964-'65 World’s Fair in New York City when I was 7 or 8, and I got to "drive" a red-on-red Mustang Convertible in the Ford Skyway pavilion. Those early childhood memories were cultivated by my dad, who every weekend let me help him by cleaning the washboard hubcaps on our '59 Country Squire; I would run my little finger over every one of the indented painted sections. The care and attention he paid to the family car was instilled in me, and it developed into a passion for automobiles — the Ford Mustang in particular. Now nearly 50 years later, after missing many opportunities to obtain one, I have finally realized a lifelong dream and acquired a Mustang convertible nearly identical to the subject in this story — life is good!

O.D. “Dave” N., Nevada

When I was in my 20s I worked with Interstate Finance of Dubuque, Iowa, and was in charge of auditing auto wholesale floor plans for dealers, including a Ford dealership in McGregor, Iowa. I had a standing offer from all of my dealers to buy a new car at invoice. After selling my previous car, I was able to buy this particular dealer's only delivered Mustang, white with red vinyl, but he had heard they were a hot ticket so he asked me to pay $100 over his cost. Since I had to make a trip the weekend before introduction, he forward-dated the paperwork and let me drive off on Sunday. Back then it was illegal even to sell cars on Sunday in the state. On the way to Davenport, an uncountable number of kids along the way were pointing and yelling "Mustang!" at us. A week later an auto wholesaler offered me $800 over the $2,368 MSRP; he would be able to make a profit wholesaling that to a car dealer even at that price — that's how hot they were! A thousand-dollar profit would have meant a lot to me in those days, but I had to refuse: If I flipped it for big profit right away I would have lost the relationship with my dealer.

Pam S., Florida

I remember as a kid never paying any attention to cars of the day until the Mustang came along. We kids would walk all over the neighborhood looking for Mustangs to gawk at. We all had our perfect Mustang that we wanted all figured out. I was only 7 when the Mustang came out so it would be many years until I could drive one, but since then I have had at least 20 Mustangs from a 1965 to my current 2014 5.0 Mustang GT. We are anxiously awaiting the release of the new 2015!!! It has been a lifelong love for me. The Mustang hobby is also lots of fun and a great way to meet awesome people — Mustang is a lifestyle!

Mike P., Michigan

This brings back memories of the 1966 Mustang convertible that I bought while I was going to an automotive trade school. Mine was only a 6-cylinder, but it ran so smooth. My dad and I were going to restore it and had a new top put on it. We were able to get a new passenger fender and quarter panels using the employee discount of a co-worker's husband that my mom worked with. It was an original 3-speed manual and was converted to an automatic. Fortunately, the car came with everything to return it to a manual transmission, which I did. The sad thing was all four corners of the floor rusted through, and the frame rails in the trunk were rotted. To add to the problem, the 200 C.I.D. engine was cracked. The decision was then made to strip it of all the parts and off to the salvage yard it went. I could kick myself now because these days there are so many reproduction parts available you practically build one from the ground up. I truly miss that car — it was my first convertible.

Clyde M., California

I was 13 and in junior high school, and my father worked at Bennett Ford in Salt Lake City. A few weeks before the official introduction, there was already a public and media frenzy boiling regarding the new Mustang. I remember going to the dealership a couple of weeks ahead of the release where, in the holding lot where the new cars sat, hidden way in the back were three new Mustangs. I worked my way back in to see the cars and sat in them; oh the joy, what an exciting new car! Don't tell anybody, but in the excitement of the moment I walked away with the extra set of "Running Horse" keys, which were exclusive for the Mustang. I took them to school to show my motorhead classmates. Wow, was I ever the hero! They were so impressed — even the Chevy guys — to see these keys and know that I'd seen a Mustang before its introduction. This car revolutionized the American automobile industry — the "Pony Car" lives today because of the Mustang. Thank you, FoMoCo.

Jim S.

My grandmother bought me a mustang in 1964, one week before they went on sale in Spartanburg, S.C., as my graduation present from college at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. The car was under wraps at the dealer, and the only reason he sold it to me was because I had to be back at school by 6 p.m. on Sunday. The official new sale date was the following Monday, so I got mine one week early. I drove the car back to Charleston — the whole time people stopped to get a glimpse. When I stopped at a gas station, I had a crowd of around 15 people wanting to look at the Mustang. I arrived at The Citadel on Sunday and parked in my designated spot for senior cadets. Cadets have to March, in uniform, to the mess hall for Sunday dinner. That day, every single cadet formation marched in place as they neared my Mustang so they could all take a look.

Do you have a Mustang story to share? Want to tell us about another classic you've owned (or wanted to own)? Click here to tell us your story, because Life's Better in a Classic.

8 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Patty O Bremerton, WA April 16, 2014 at 13:44
    In spring of 1964, when I was 11 years old, my parents went out car shopping; looking to replace the old green Ford Falcon. My brother and I, who had stayed home, were so excited when - after a few hours - they pulled up in a brand new 1964-1/2 Mustang 260 V8 - automatic. It was the most beautiful turquoise color in the world. (Known as Pagota Green.) Now I'm 61 years old and I still own that same Mustang . . and she is still Pagota Green. (Over the years she's also been canary yellow and a gorgeous copper rust color.) When my brother graduated from high school in 1969, he was offered the Mustang or $500. He took the money and purchased a new '69 Mustang. (Which he no longer has.) When I was offered the Mustang upon my graduation in 1971, I opted to take the car. Turns out it was the best choice I ever made! My husband and I had her restored by a professional a few years ago. She looks just like that first day in spring of 1964 when she came to live with my family. My own children, now in their late 30's, are both hoping to be the one who gets the Ol' Blue "when Mom no longer needs her". I hope they are waiting for a long, long time.
  • 2
    Rick Hernandez El Paso, TX April 16, 2014 at 16:31
    I remember standing on the hump of a car and looking out the back window and also seeing the air registers and running my fingernails on them. I was 4-5 years old, but I did not know the car or anything on it. I have those visions in my mind for years until I saw a picture of my Dad in a car with the Fastback roof line and asked my Mom about it and she told me it was their 1965 Mustang Fastback that was only with them for 2 months and then stolen. I then went and found a 1965 Fastback just to take me back in time, we have had the 65 since 1996. We have added a 2013 GT500 with a Super Snake upgrade to our small collection. Happy Birthday to all our Mustang's. I am very proud to own 2 of them.
  • 3
    Pat Phoenix April 16, 2014 at 16:44
    Always loved the mustang, from the early released 1965s thru the Mustang IIs (except vinyl roofed) and up to the retro 05 to 09s. So glad I finally got one, a 2008 V6 Pony Pkg. It was worth the wait. Love it even more that it's paid off with 32,000. It's too bad Ford lost their way in 2010 with a drastic remodel & constant tweeking through 2014. 2010-2012 models sold were down 70,000 from the previous 3 years. That says something. And news of a global mustang for 2015 with a Fusion inspired grille? I'm really glad I got in on the last Mustang craze!
  • 4
    Gregg Denver April 16, 2014 at 17:25
    My first purchase after returning from a one year tour in Vietnam with the US Army II Field Force Vietnam Combat Command, was a Lime Gold 1967 Mustang coupe, 289 3-speed. It served me well during the rest of my enlistment in California and Virginia. I mistakenly parted with my old 'Stang in college in the early 70s. I've always regretted selling that car, but happened across another unrestored '67 Fastback back in the mid-90s. It needed everything, but it was complete and undamaged and the price was right. Fast forward to 2005. All bodywork and paint done and taken back to the original Candy Apple Red with red interior per the data plate. The C-code 289 was completely redone, and the only non-original part being a date-correct 4-speed toploader in place of the original 3-speed. I was pretty much a "nerd" in high school, but when I rolled up in my '67 Fastback to the 25 year class reunion, heads turned, and even the "cool" in-crowd types were impressed. Not that it mattered .... but yeah, it kinda' did. Anyway, she's my joy-ride in nice weather these days, and while there's always quicker (427 Cobra) and faster (Bugatti Veyron), there aren't too many PRETTIER. Like the T-shirt says: Life is Good :)
  • 5
    Len B. Beloit,WI April 17, 2014 at 03:19
    As much as I would like to think I was a pretty savvy car guy for a teen-aged kid in 1978 some Poor Decisions have always plagued me. For instance, in the spring of 1978 I purchased a 1969 Mach 1 sports roof with the rear window louvers, a 428 SCJ, 4 speed and of course it was Candy Apple Red with black interior and gold Mach 1 stripes for the unbelievable price of $1,800.00 As I did my fair share of wheeling and dealing back in the day and already owned a 1969 Riviera GS with only 55,000 miles, a '70 442 455 with a 4 speed and a 4:10 posi, and a 1974 MGB at the time, the Mustang went up for sale almost immediately and I sold it for little more than a 10% profit within a week. One of my biggest regrets when thinking back on that decision now.
  • 6
    Stan Aksamit Goodyear, AZ April 19, 2014 at 13:56
    I have always been a Mustang fan, but got my first in '85. Traded a Camaro for it and absolutely loved this car. Fast and fun. If there ever was a car that should have given me a ticket, it was this car. It was the most fun since my '68 GTX. I now own a '99 GT convert, since new, and this car is the best car I have ever owned. Fifteen years and still love it. But, because of some recent health issues, my arthritic left knee which makes it difficult to depress the clutch, I will be selling it. I will miss it dearly, and at 74, maybe it's time to grow up. Naw! The attention I get with my chrome yellow pony is another thing I will miss. Love the '15, and if I get past all the issues, an auto version is on my wish list.
  • 7
    Bruce R Porter Sr North Carolina April 26, 2014 at 14:42
    OK, Hagerty, you got me :) I was looking to buy another, my 3rd, but got back from first tour in Viet Nam, point man in 173rd Airborne infantry and LRRP in Sep 66. Was going to planning to go to college...lasted a couple of months and decided that all civilians were crazy so I reenlisted and went back to Nam. Took my reup bonus and bought a 1964 1/2 white convertible with a black top, blue interior, 3 speed on the floor and a rally pack. What fun, got real popular real quick. Beat it to death, would race anybody at the drop of a hat. Finished my training, got my orders to the 101st Airborne and sold it for party money a few months later! Just in case I didn't make it back....Here's the dumb part....I don't have even one picture of it. Bought a 2002 GT convertible after kids were gone, triple white, and my beautiful wife of 44 years who'd never even had a ticket totaled it. Now I'm kinda looking for one that is special, but not too expensive, like an older Cobra or an ASCMclaren.
  • 8
    JC Hayes Sierra City CA March 31, 2016 at 19:34
    May 8th 1965 Dad is pulling into our driveway in a new car. He has the sneaky grin on his face, the one he wears when he comes home from South Carolina with a suitcase full of fireworks--the kind the Fire Marshall confiscates in California with mild slap on the hand. I’m enthralled by the beauty of this car. Dad hands me the Window Sticker for the car and I look at him and don’t know what he’s up to... The car had been around for a year but these lines are original. The red and white seats are embossed with a metal bar and a herd of horses. There is a console with woodgrain as well as the glove box and 5-dial instrument cluster in woodgrain… there is a tach and clock straddling the steering column, The Ford Mustang has dual redline red-wall tires and and triple red racing stripe along the lower running boards… and there is a badge that has a checkered flag with the word “High Performance” above the 289 that can only be read from 5 feet. The four speed stick shift is rising from the console on a shiny chrome pole with a black bulb with the shift pattern in white 1-4 forward and a reverse. I read the sales slip on the kitchen table: Mustang convertible, Raven Black, Power White Top, 2 barrel V-8 updated to 4V 289 High Performance, GT equipment group with special handling package, front disc brakes, gt badges and racing stripe, fog lamps dual exhaust, visibility group, rally gauges, Interior Decor Group, Rally Pac, equilock axel, Am radio, front and rear seatbelts… a 3 month 4000 mile warranty. $4302. Dad hands me two sets of keys, and says “You’ve earned this Son” “It’s mine?” “Don’t do anything that would cause me to take these keys and that car away from you dig JC?” “Yeah Dad--I dig”. “Well, show me how well you can drive this beast--the clutch is much like our Pontiac Tempest GTO.” “Okay Dad--let’s go.” Within 15 minutes dad was convinced I could handle the car. I turned 16 on May 9th, 1965; and, true to Dad’s (and Mom’s Promise), The Mustang was a present for me. I had maintained the straight A’s, and made Varsity in Tennis as part of the deal. I had also, as the oldest, held up my end of the bargain by getting a job Pumping Gas at the local Chevron Station and babysitting my younger brothers and sister. The options on the car were what I had told dad I wanted--and much more. There was a plaque below the radio “This Mustang built especially for JC Stanford Hayes”. Okay--so I was from a wealthy family--so was everyone else in the neighborhood. Our last name was eponymous with San Jose, San Francisco and Sierra City California since the gold rush When the Hayes family crossed with Leland Stanford’s. Monday May 11th life was not ever the same. I went to my High School, Woodside after dropping off my sister at Junior High; and then, I had tennis practice, and my job for 3 hours--home by 7 PM but I was in my own car, top down, and my dad had pulled out the Ford station wagon to make room for my car. Wow! Life got back to normal and I soon realized that having my own car made life easier for all of us--and I ran a ton of errands for my family. That summer I worked full time at the Chevron Station and did not get to go to Hawaii with my family; and frankly, I was thrilled to have a week to myself proving to mom and dad that I could take care of myself. I drove to the Airport in South San Francisco to pick up the family in the Station Wagon and waited at the gate--I was an hour early and brought a book to read. There were a few people at the Gate waiting too and then a loudspeaker came on asking everyone waiting for Flight 304 from Honolulu to please wait at Gate 5, and someone would explain there was a delay… Then my Grandfather, Harold Hayes, came up to the gate… I never saw my family again. No survivors. My mom and Dad were very popular; I was too. Grandpa Rucker and Hayes explained all the money stuff to me, and how I was the sole beneficiary to my parents estates. How I had to go to court and become emancipated, and then choose a family to live with in Portola Valley where I lived, until the age of 18 when I finished High School and then I would have access to my home. But I must finish college before I would be in charge of my parents money. I went to Stanford so I could stay close to home. In 1971 I finished with a degree in Economics. I went home, flopped on my bed and finally cried it out. I was beat, my family was gone, and I had to start my own life. I had no idea where to begin but Grandpa Hayes did. Thank god for Harold. He got me a job at JPMorgan in San Francisco. I started out in their Mortgage department. I had just turned 22 in the fall of 1971 and I was still very confused about how to live my life. My salary was pretty good. I made 40,000 plus a 7500 bonus by the end of 1972, and I was transferred to New Jersey--so I quit and went to work for EF Hutton, staying in San Francisco and keeping my old house in Portola Valley. The car is still there! A Barn Find Waiting.

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